Antarctica (US Blad)

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Introduction I’d never sensed such deep stillness. Only the thrumming of the ship’s engine and the hissing of icy waters could be heard. Passing through fields of ice chunks and broken-up icebergs, we peered into the foggy veil. Was anything there? Suddenly a ray of sun broke through, then another. A patch of blue sky, then another. Within minutes, the ship chugged out of the low cloud into the most incredible panorama I’d ever seen: foaming aquamarine sea, floating icebergs layered with all the blues of heaven and earth, walled in by monumental white mountains that seemed to exhale sprites of icy wind. And—there!—the spouts of humpback whales, fellow migrants from the north. They’d come all the way from equatorial waters to feed in Antarctica. And—there!—a flock of Adélie penguins “flying” through the water, arcing like dolphins. Everyone broke out in smiles; I burst into tears: here at last! Pete leaned over my shoulder, pointing out what looked like a thin stick at the foot of a mountain. “That’s a British weather station,” he said. The “stick” was an antenna the size of a city skyscraper, our only clue to the scale of the mountains that surrounded the Strait. It was my first lesson in understanding Antarctica: how huge it is and how hard to size up. That and the slogan people are always saying jokingly: “It’s a harsh continent.” They mean, be careful here. They mean, we are very far from help. They mean, this environment is not designed to be hospitable to humans. On the contrary, it often seems to be designed to destroy us. And yet, the future of Antarctica’s ice—so vital to maintaining our planet’s balance— depends more than anything on our actions.


THE UNKNOWN LAND

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Chapter 2

In a hurry to know

F

rom my drawing desk at the U.S.-run Palmer research station on the edge of the Antarctic Peninsula, I felt, as well as heard, a rumble that shook the floor. I ran to the lab door and looked across Arthur Harbor to the cliff-face of the

Marr Ice Piedmont—the foot of the mountainous glacier that slopes up from the coast. With a roar, a “calf” of ice descended in slow motion, like a slab of icing falling off the side of a birthday cake, but much, much bigger and bluer. As the brand-new iceberg met the sea, a foaming wave swept across Arthur Harbor. Over days and weeks it would stick around Palmer Station, flowing closer and further away with the wind, before finally lumbering away from the coast and into the current that would carry it north. Newborn icebergs from recent calving events loomed near and dotted far along the horizon, shaped like everything from a scallop shell to a Hershey’s Kiss to

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In a hurry to Know


Bart Simpson’s head, and colored in spooky, spacey shades of blue. So many! Too many? Every conversation at Palmer Station involved details of glacier shrinkage. The Marr Ice Piedmont itself continues to thin and pull back from the shore at a rate of 33 feet (10 m) a year, and is now more than a quarter mile (400 m) from its 1960 location. These days in Antarctica, few people try to reach new places or do things first, as they did in the age of heroes. Almost everyone focuses on learning about conditions in Antarctica. It would be impossible to visit this place without realizing something new was going on—and wondering where it would lead. In February 2020, scientists working at Marambio, Brazil’s research station on Seymour Island, experienced something rare: T-shirt weather, 20.75ºC (70ºF). Marambio station sits at the tip of the Antarctic Peninsula, which has warmed three times faster than the average rate of anywhere else on Earth. Global warming affects the poles more intensely than the tropical zones (near the equator) or temperate zones (between the tropical and polar zones). A 40-year study showed that in 2020 Antarctica sent six times more ice into the sea than it did in 1979, at the start of the study. While the East Antarctic Ice Sheet and Central Antarctica are more stable, currently contributing 30 percent of the total ice melting in Antarctica, the West Antarctic Ice Sheet is undergoing rapid change. It’s home to two of the most vulnerable of the world’s five key glaciers—the Pine Island Glacier (the PIG) and the Thwaites Glacier. Should they melt, they would flood every continent, raising sea levels by 4 feet (1.2 m) worldwide. The East Antarctic Ice Sheet holds ten times as much ice as the West Antarctic Ice Sheet, a major concern if it were to start to melt more rapidly, too.

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W

Windows To the past

hile I’ve been writing this book, scientists’ findings have flowed in so quickly that it’s been hard to keep up. Each finding opens a window to a point along Antarctica’s timeline. Here are some of the most incredible

recent discoveries and the scientists who uncovered them.

BRIAN ATKINSON AND THE JURASSIC PINE FOREST Not only was there a forest in Antarctica in dinosaur times, but it contained conifer trees—a group that includes pine trees. When scientist Brian Atkinson, from the University of Kansas, analyzed a 200-million-year-old conifer cone found in the Carapace Nunatak area of the Transantarctic Mountains in Antarctica, he realized that the specimen told the story of a whole new branch of these trees’ family tree. Chimaerostrobus minutus wasn’t just a new species, it also represented a new genus, or whole species group, and a missing piece in the evolution of trees.

ANTARCTICAN E H T D N A N A M JOSÉ O’GOR S MARINE REPTILE

spotted osaur were first m as el an d lle ca re José ent reptile her 23 years befo Fossils of an anci ot an ok to It excavate n. peditio itute, was able to st In during a 1989 ex c ti rc ta An Argentina cold, snowy O’Gorman, from the soil of Seymour Island. Battling ozen up plans to them from the fr ir work and held he t n ow d ed ow se, O’Gormans’ team Ba o bi am ar M conditions that sl ’ s na tiles lived fossils to Argenti hese aquatic rep T r. au helicopter their os m as el he mains of t s ago. At unearthed the re d, 66 million year io er p us eo ac et d 40 feet the Cr specimen measure ’ s an near the end of m or G O’ ), es p-like 7–13.4 tonn ve used as a whi ha ay m it 11.8–14.8 tons (10. ch hi to tail—a tail w . (12 m) from nose per fast speeds su at d ke ac cr weapon

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THOMAS MÖRS AN D A 40-MILLION-Y EAR-OLD

FROG

A 40-million-year -old fossil of a fr og was found on Se Island, which is no ymour w so cold that it wou Paleontologist Tho mas Mörs, from the ld kill a human. Swedish Museum Natural History in of Stockholm, said the frog showed that 40 million years ag o Antarctica was still warm enough to keep a cold-blo oded frog—and m ay be other amphibians and re ptiles—croaking ha ppily. How could that be? Es pecially when you think that “just” six m illion years after this frogs’ lifetime, Antarctica began to ice over and frog population nu mbers fell to zero . In geological time, tha ts’ a quick freeze — something the frog fossil discovery he lped prove was possible .

The thing

In 2011, when Chilean scientists found something that looked like a flattened football, 11 x 7 inches (28 x 18 cm), they tucked it away in a museum. They simply called it “The Thing.” Nine years later the Thing was identified as a 68-million-year-old egg. Whose egg? It’s quite possible it was from a mosasaur, a giant swimming reptile. Only one animal is known to have a bigger egg—the extinct Madagascan elephant bird.

In a hurry to Know

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Author: Karen Romano Young Illustrator: Angela Hsieh Ages: 8-12 years Price: U.S. $24.00 / CAN $32.50 Format: Hardcover Extent: 64 pages Trim size: 8.5 x 11 in Pub date: April 19, 2022 ISBN: 978-1-9137505-3-4 BISAC codes: JNF038090 JUVENILE NONFICTION / People & Places / Polar Regions JNF003000 JUVENILE NONFICTION / Animals / General JNF037020 JUVENILE NONFICTION / Science & Nature / Environmental Conservation & Protection Author Karen Romano Young is a writer, illustrator, science communicator, and polar explorer. She has written more than two dozen books for children, and has illustrated several, including the groundbreaking graphic novel Doodlebug and the forthcoming graphic nonfiction Diving for Deep-Sea Dragons. Her acclaimed science books include Try This!, Mission: Sea Turtle Rescue, and Shark Quest. She is the creator of a science comic called #AntarcticLog, which took her to Palmer Station, Antarctica, and a veteran of seven ocean science research voyages, including dives to the bottom of the ocean. Karen’s novels include Hundred Percent and A Girl, a Raccoon, and the Midnight Moon. Karen lives in the Connecticut woods with her husband and a big furry dog. Illustrator Angela Hsieh is a Taiwanese American illustrator whose life choices can mostly be explained by the fact that she likes goofy animals. She once visited Antarctica and can confirm that penguins, as cute as they are, smell awful. Her clients include the New York Times, The New Yorker, NPR, Medium, and Nautilus. She is writing and illustrating a graphic novel about adventure and discovery, about the way that language and distance shape relationships, and about giant animals.

ISBN 978-1-913750-53-4

9 781913 750534

Explore a frozen continent full of incredible animals, places, people, and stories. Antarctica—vast, cold, and mysterious. This frozen continent is full of incredible stories. Here you can discover incredible wildlife, awe-inspiring landscapes, and adventurous scientists and explorers. Join author Karen Romano Young on a trip across Antarctica, hanging out with people and animals and learning about how this special place is changing, and what it means for our planet. Hang out with some of the coolest creatures on earth above and below the ice as you meet emperor penguins, killer whales, and elephant seals. Suit up for the cold and explore some of the harshest landscapes on earth, following in the footsteps of brave explorers. And learn about how scientists survive here today and what they do all day–from studying climate change to investigating ice cores almost a million years old to learn about the history—and future—of our planet. •

Presents STEM/STEAM topics from geology to physics to climate science through an engaging, first-hand narrative exploration of the continent Urgent environmental messages are woven throughout the narrative as readers discover how real-life scientists are studying this continent to learn about the ways Earth is changing A tour of Antarctica’s animal life, including familiar favorites, such as penguins and whales, as well as some more unusual ones, from giant jellyfish to fish with anti-freeze blood Author and illustrator’s first hand experience of Antarctica brings the continent to life

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